Embrace the Jolly Season on a Winter Yoga Retreat in the UK
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Winter is almost here, and one cannot imagine a better place to spend the holiday season than the UK. The streets are filled with lights, mistletoes hang on every door, there’s mulled wine on the stove and people seem to be happier than usual.
However, winter is also the time when we may slack when it comes to our healthy habits. Don't let your practice on the mat get rusty because of the cold weather, you can still come on out and avoid the winter blues by joining a yoga retreat in the UK. Strike your best poses in a nice destination and uplift your spirit with the jolly traditions of the United Kingdom.
Here you can find what each of the British nations has to offer!
If you ever happen to be in Cornwall during winter, consider yourself lucky because this is the time of the year when you can enjoy it to its fullest. There are Christmas markets everywhere and celebrations like Tom Bawcock's Eve are taking place.
This festival is based on a legend which says that Tom Bawcock, a local fisherman, saved the entire village of Mousehole from starvation in the 16th century. That was a particularly stormy winter, so there was no food, but brave Tom Bawcock went out in his boat and caught enough fish to feed the entire village.
All his catch was baked into a pie with fish heads poking through the crust to show that there were fish inside. That’s why, during this time of the year, people eat Stargazy pie, a mixed fish, egg and potato pie covered with a pastry crust and, of course, fish heads protruding the crust. Even though it might not look as tasty, it’s actually quite delicious! Also, if you want to live a more 'Christmassy' experience, go to the harbor to see its famous Christmas lights.
However, if you’re looking for an exciting destination to celebrate New Year’s Eve, the cities of St. Ives and Looe are both excellent choices. On the evening of the 31st, you’ll find lots of people in fancy dresses on the streets waiting to see the amazing fireworks.
Another alternative to travel in England during winter is Devon, where you can join the annual underground concert at Kents Cavern and enjoy the unique experience of singing carols in a cave. Or you could attend a nativity play in a farm where you’ll see real farm animals taking part in the act.
Lastly, if you want to enjoy truly breathtaking wintry views in England, you should go to a yoga retreat in Cumbria. Here you can practice in a real winter wonderland and spend Christmas or New Year at a cozy cottage or at a lakeside hotel in the Lake District.
Wales is a land for all seasons and winter comes with the lovely tradition of going out for birdwatching. The main birds you get to see are oystercatcher, curlew and dunlin. The red kite can also be seen at some feeding stations in Mid Wales. This bird is very special for Welsh people because, by the 1950s, it was on the edge of extinction, but thanks to the help of dedicated volunteers the species stabilized again.
Another important celebration in Wales is The Mari Lwyd (Grey Mare) which is a peculiar tradition consisting on someone carrying a horse's skull that’s decorated with colorful reins, ribbons and bells, wrapped in a white sheet and placed on a pole, accompanied by a group of people wearing traditional dresses.
They go through the village singing and challenging families to a battle of rhyming insults in Welsh. Each encounter can last for as long as they want until the Mari’s procession wins the battle. The household lets them inside and offers them refreshments as a sign of thankfulness for the good luck the mare has brought to the family for the future year.
It’s a very unique tradition, but the Welsh also share celebrations with the rest of the world, like their Dydd Santes Dwynwen, which is their equivalent to Valentine's Day and it’s commemorated on the 25th of January.
If you want to explore other destinations beyond the United Kingdom discover these 5 winter yoga destinations to embrace the season.
Winters in Scotland are full of life! With a variety of exciting activities, several festivals, Christmas markets, the Northern Lights and the Hogmanay, there are plenty of options to enjoy the season and add some fun to your yoga vacation.
Hogmanay in Edinburgh is among the world’s largest New Year’s Eve celebrations. It consists of a massive street party including performances from musicians, traditional Scottish dances and a colossal firework display over Edinburgh Castle.
Another option is going to Glasgow, where you’ll find acclaimed museums like the world-famous Kelvingrove Art Gallery and remarkable cultural institutions such as the Scottish Opera, the Scottish Ballet and the National Theatre of Scotland. You can also go to Glasgow’s National Park to do some skiing or snowboarding.
Finally, if you want to see something extraordinary head to the Shetland Islands and take part in the Up Helly Aa, a festival where they build a replica of a Viking longship and they form squads dressed up in thematic costumes.
The main character in the celebration is the Guizer Jarl; he’s also the person who leads all the processions of the event. The last procession takes place after nightfall and the longship is dragged through the streets of the town with people carrying torchlights. When all the members of the squads arrive at the final spot, they form a circle around the galley and sing a traditional song. Afterward, they throw their torches into the galley and wait until it has burned before proceeding to a night of wild partying.
Every winter there’s an undeniable joyful spirit in the air of Northern Ireland. Since Christianity is the main religion in the nation, there are many beautiful Christmas rituals going on that will for sure get you into the festive mood.
Beautifully decorated houses, unique Christmas markets, children writing letters for Santa Claus, lots of wrapped presents under the Christmas trees and celebrations taking place at the local church. One specific cool event you could attend is The Carols at Candlelight. So, make sure you do some Pranayama exercises during your retreat to carol your lungs out!
The two most popular regions for a yoga holiday in Northern Ireland are Fermanagh and Ulster, both great places to combine that Christmas spirit with some meditation and mindfulness.
Want to go on a yoga holiday but can’t afford it right now? There are plenty of budget yoga retreats in the UK!